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Number 50

Contemporary Photography

Winter 2013


View from the Chair I received, in the New Year, information that Jenny Ford’s husband, Jim, had died. I would like to pay tribute to him because he was an enormous help and support to Jenny during the time she was our Group Secretary and Exhibitions Organiser. I don’t think Jenny could have managed the Exhibitions for as long as she did without his help. Our condolences and thoughts are with Jenny. Our AGM will be held at the Grafton Hotel in London, 23 March at 2pm. I apologise that this clashes with other events, but it was a case of combining room availability and our speaker, Liz Hingley. Liz is a British photographer and researcher specialising in documentary, reportage and portraiture. She will be talking about her recent work Under Gods and The Jones Family. Her website is www.lizhingley. com for further information. We hope to see many of you there; apart from your having the chance to have your say about the running of the Contemporary Group, you will also have an excellent speaker. Contrasting Contemporary, our weekend in Plymouth, organised in conjunction with the South West Region, was a great success. Our speakers were excellent and were well received. It was also very gratifying to see so many students and many attended for the entire weekend. A great many of the attendees had been to all of our previous weekend events, but there were some new faces as well. Nigel Tooby, who is organising our North East group, talked about his Fellowship and the book that he produced for it. I think that it struck a chord with many of us, which was much appreciated. The planning for the next weekend event has started. It is hoped that it will take place in the autumn, closer to London. When further details are available we will let everyone know. A little late, but may I wish you all an excellent New Year. Avril. Copyright notice © The copyright of photographs and text in this issue belongs to the author of the article of which they form part, unless otherwise indicated. If you wish to submit articles for the Journal, please send all copy and images on disc to: Patricia Ann Ruddle, 28 Malvern Avenue, York, YO26 5SG. patriciaruddle@btinternet.com

Text should be in Microsoft Word and images are preferred in TIFF format, 300 dpi, file size guideline 10-20Mb. Images are also acceptable as high quality JPEGs, file size guideline 3-6 Mb. For other formats, please contact the Editor. Large image files may be supplied on disc or by use of online large file transfer facilities. Unless requested, discs will not be returned.

Cover: from the exhibition Street Fixtures of Tulsa © Patricia A Ruddle ARPS

DEADLINE for the Spring 2013 edition is 31 March 2013.

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Number 50

Winter 2013

Contemporary Photography View from the Chair

Avril Harris ARPS

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Editorial

Patricia Ann Ruddle ARPS

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Nice and Naughty: The Photomontages of David Ferry

Stephen Clarke

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Creebridge Caravan Park

Armando Jongejan FRPS

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Burial

Caroline Silverwood Taylor ARPS

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Winter Water Colours

John D Woods

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The Mobile Farrier

Lesley Treloar ARPS

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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man: Photographs of Samuel Beckett by John Minihan Making Meudon

Michael White

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Alan Organ

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Winter, by Jeffrey Conley, Book Review Welland’s Past in the Present

Donald Stewart FRPS

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Patricia Bashforth

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Group Events

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Committee

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Too much time to think

Paul Hill MBE

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Contemporary Group ethos - Photography that explores the photographer’s personal view of contemporary society, environment, art or culture, usually through a themed body of work.

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Editorial Contemporary Goes Historical in the 50 th Issue Rummaging through my archives, I saw that our first issue, published April 1990, was called Contemporary Photography: the Newsletter of the Contemporary Group of the Royal Photographic Society, and this is its registered ISSN title. It kept this name until changed in 2009. From the original 8-page newsletter we have grown to a 40-page journal. To celebrate our 50th issue, its title returns in part to its original (or historical) title - Contemporary Photography. Here are articles in which the contemporary has called upon the historical to provide opportunities for personal work. There is use of the historical in which photographs have been inspired by the nature of a once-disused prisoner-of-war camp; or the response evoked by the troubadour farrier using traditional methods to forge his trade in a new age. Again, the “spirit of the past” is evoked with imagery and poetry in the story of the Welland Canal. On a different tack, an iconic photograph is the inspirational source used to reconstruct a 21st-century photograph. Even the photomontages of Dave Ferry deconstruct views of British heritage, in some instances where, “a world of woollen comfort collides with the forces of history.” Indeed, all of the submissions can be seen to harken back to something that has given the photographers the material, the motivation, to inspire personal work. There is an art historical approach used in the analysis of Minihan’s portraits of Samuel Beckett.

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This dissects three images in a way that not only contextualises them in literature and photography, but also informs us about contemporary portrait practices. I suggest that White’s language, his often lyrical, striking use of words, is another effective by-product of the article, which again can evoke ideas. I have been enthused by White’s referral to the “dismal world of the slipper.” It elicits in me not a response to the greatness of neither the playwright nor the wish to explore portrait photography, but the idea of the ordinary. I want a project that will celebrate the prosaic or the humdrum of the everyday - something that contemporary photography does very well. Actually, there is something of a fusion with the portrait and the everyday in the old photographs of the deceased mother. The photographer’s process of freezing and re-photographing, and the resultant images, have helped her to deal with the death of a loved one. It only remains for me to mention John Wood, whose article broadens our view of contemporary photography. He uses the science of light as the intellectual underpinning to create the work, in this case birds in their winter environment – in Regent’s Park, itself rich in history. Wishing you all a good new year, Patricia


Nice and Naughty:The Photomontages of David Ferry Stephen Clarke

Grafted onto the Lancashire coastline looms an icon of Paris. Blackpool’s Tower, inspired by the Eiffel Tower, marks the town out as a place where the synthetic and the fake reign. A leisure machine built for holiday madness, the town is certainly naughty but hardly nice. Born in Blackpool in 1957, the artist David Ferry recognises that this machine has stamped its presence on his work. Ferry made his first photomontages in the mid-1970s as an art student in London where the mocking and mischievous nature of Punk was absorbed into his practice. As Bernard Sharratt, in his essay on Ferry, observes: “period as well as place form an artist”(1). Ferry’s heritage is composed of debased fragments. The definition of ‘photomontage’ has been uncertain. Sometimes limited to images made with photographic processes and darkroom techniques, the Berlin Dadaists used the term broadly to describe work with photographic elements. John Heartfield, known as ‘Monteur Heartfield’ by the Dadaists, stated that: “A photograph can, by the addition of an unimportant spot of colour, become a photomontage…” (2) Using combinations of cut-outs, overlaid with pencil, ink, wash and frottage David Ferry explores this more complex version of photomontage. During the 1980s, the premiership of Margaret Thatcher provided political impetus to a number of artists using photomontage including Linder Sterling and Peter Kennard. Ferry’s photomontages also referred to the political landscape of this period. His series The Star Chamber (1985-88) dealt with aspects of power, combining contemporary imagery with historical ones, setting the scene for later works that would deal with national identity. Lacking is the humour that makes his photomontages of the 1990s distinct.

The touring exhibition David Ferry: Aspects of Our National Heritage (1999) served as an overview to this work of the 1990s. The exhibition brought together a collection of Ferry’s post-war tourist guidebooks to the British Isles. The books, bought from second hand shops, are filled with old photographs of a past age; a sentimental world where the old is preferred to the new. In these photographs the nice, familiar English countryside is unspoiled by the modern world. These books were naughtily defaced by Ferry as he inserted images from another period, mostly the DIY magazines from 1960s and 1970s. Puncturing sentiment with humour, fragments of modern architecture and machinery intrude upon the landscape of the nice. Travel and its consequences are at the centre of his practice. He says: “I always ask for the window seat; it helps give a sense of where you are”. (3) As a child he remembers days out in the family car driven around the countryside. Writing about Ferry’s excursions into the heritage of the English landscape, Brandon Taylor describes how it is the use of the motor car that gave the modern tourist access to this unspoiled land. Taylor quotes the complaint of Anthony Bertram about the vulgar, urban proletariat: “National beauty is being distorted into ‘beauty spots’ where ice-cream merchants thread their ways among the close-parked cars, and litter boxes and first-aid posts testify to the habits of the invaders”. (4) Like the modern motoring machine, Ferry’s montaged fragments disrupt the comforting scene of national identity and historical narrative. It was from the distance of New York in 2001 that he started to directly comment on the story of English history. Faces and Places From History (finished in 2006) traced

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the history of England from the Stone Age through to Queen Victoria and the peak of the British Empire. Created from his original bookwork titled A Picture History of England … Mainly in Black and White, he defiled an existing book on English history with photographic fragments from knitting patterns. A world of woollen comfort collides with the forces of history. This deconstruction of the notion of British heritage was continued with Belligerent Rock Intrusions (2010) that used tourist books and mountain climbing literature; and The Stately Aquariums of England (2011) that combined images of the ancestral homes of the aristocrats with exotic fish and the tanks filled with bizarre accessories. Made at this period of economic crisis, these photomontages may represent a world in which England is shaken by tremors and sinks beneath rising floods. Ferry brings a heritage of seaside madness, Punk rock and political satire to a commentary on the place and period he inhabits. Through photomontage he reveals a parallel world that reflects the synthetic nature of our own. Continuing in the tradition of Heartfield’s definition of photomontage, his latest works combine photographs, spray paint, stencil and varnish.(5) The naughty boy from Blackpool adds something extra to the scene like that French tower dropped onto the shores of Lancashire. David Ferry RE is Professor of Printmaking and Book Arts at the Cardiff School of Art and Design. He has provided the images and given us permission to use them. 1. Ferry, D. and Sharratt, B. (2002) Views from the Window Seat. The Avram Gallery, Southampton College, Long Island University/ Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. p. 12 2. Ades, D. (1986) Photomontage. London: Thames and Hudson. p. 16 3. Ferry, D. and Sharratt, B. (2002) Views from the Window Seat. The Avram Gallery, Southampton College, Long Island University / Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton. p. 7 4. Taylor, B. Montage Over Britain in Ferry, D. (1999) David Ferry: Aspects of Our National Heritage. Southampton: The Southern Arts Touring Exhibition Service. p. 15 5. Ferry, D. (2009) Montage 2007 - 2010. Canterbury: E. C. Parker

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© David Ferry: Wells Cathedral original photomontage from the artist’s book work A Picture History of The West Country, 1992/3. Courtesy National Print Gallery, London.


© David Ferry: Tewkesbury Abbey original photomontage from the artist’s book work A Picture History of The West Country, 1992/3. Courtesy National Print Gallery, London.

© David Ferry: Landscape near Litton original photomontage from the artist’s book work A Picture History of The Peak District, 2002. Courtesy National Print Gallery, London. .

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© David Ferry: The Aquarium, Petworth, 2011

© David Ferry: book jacket: Aquariums in English Country Houses, Artists Book, containing original photomontages from the defaced plates inside the original publication, 20082010. Collection National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, purchased 2011.

© David Ferry: The Aquarium, Woburn Abbey, 2011

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© David Ferry: Belligerent Rock Intrusions: Mainly in Black and White. Original dust cover of artist’s book 2008/9. The Ginsberg Archive, Johannesburg, RSA.

© David Ferry: Canterbury Cathedral, from Belligerent Rock Intrusions, 2009/10. Archival Inkjet print on hand-made paper. Print from original montage.

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© David Ferry: Derwent Water original photomontage from the artist’s book work The Lake District, 1995. Collection Flaxman Library, Art Institute of Chicago, USA.

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Creebridge Caravan Park Armando Jongejan FRPS

Armando Jongejan has visited the UK many times, sometimes for photography, sometimes for family holidays. In 2009, Armando went to south-western Scotland to a campsite in Newton Stewart. When he arrived he was surprised. The atmosphere was completely different from what he was used to in caravan parks. The experience was strange; it felt like something was ‘weird’, but he could not explain it. The laundry room and toilet blocks were a little old, although well-painted and clean. After two days he started to photograph around the campsite. The owner of the campsite, John Sharples, saw him with his camera and tripod. He was surprised that Armando was taking photos. After his explanation about the atmosphere, Mr. Sharples explained why the campsite was different. During World War II, Creebridge Caravan Park in Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway was a prisoner-of-war camp. In 1941 the camp was called “Holm Park Camp, Newton Stewart, Camp No.113”, and it was used for Italian prisoners of war. The Italian prisoners were repatriated to Italy in 1943. The camp then housed German prisoners of the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht. After the war in 1945, the camp became a displaced persons camp for Soviet refugees coming from former Eastern Bloc countries such as Poland and Czechoslovakia.

In 1964 the camp became a campsite. Original parts of the prisoner-of-war-camp were still visible in 2009. The roads were built by Italian prisoners - in the concrete you can see the name “Italy 43”. The guard tower is not in use, but overlooks the campsite. The storage room/ garage is an original barrack with the original fire buckets posed in front. The house/reception was the prison for violent prisoners. The phone box was formerly the sentry-box, and the foundations of the barracks are used for static caravans. The laundry room was built in 1968. John Sharples has owned the campsite since 1998. Sometimes he meets old prisoners from the former camp days. At the reception desk he has a framed black & white photo to show those interested in the history of the camp site. After Armando made his ‘stills’, he knew that he had missed taking one important photograph for the series. He needed to make a portrait of the owner in front of the reception building. One evening he was able to convince Mr. Sharples to stand outside the reception building, and pose with the old, framed black & white photo from World War II days. Sources: John Sharples and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)

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Burial Caroline Silverwood Taylor ARPS

This work was made in a direct response to my mother’s death in July 2010. I found a photograph of her that I had taken ten years earlier just after my father died. I submerged the photograph in water and then froze it. Then I re-photographed the photograph beneath the ice, at intervals, allowing the ice to crack and melt, and then freeze again. The resulting images symbolise my feelings and thoughts about death, memory and loss. The attention of the viewer shifts between the icy surface of the image and the underlying shape of the human face beneath, which is beginning to lose its identity and shape. The ice forms a window on my mother’s face but it is also a barrier: just penetrable by gaze, but impenetrable by touch. Ice has many associations; it is hard, cold and fixed, smooth and slippery; it has some of the properties of glass (alluding to the tendency to put pictures of loved ones behind glass); it is a preservative; it kills. Objects can be kept safe in ice but they can also be trapped. As water freezes it expands, and like water, ice warps what we view through it. The repetitive nature of re-photographing the photograph beneath ice is significant because it echoes the nature of remembering. The same memory shifts with time and changes according to mood and context. In order to come to terms with and move on from the death of a loved one, we need to cultivate a small shard of ice in our hearts. We need to put a barrier of coldness between us and them. Placing my mother’s photograph below ice is, both literally and metaphorically, a form of burial.

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Ice on Regent Park’s Lake

Winter Water Colours

The project exploits optical processes in nature – reflection, refraction and caustics from natural focusing that act on a water surface. Here in first phase, colour harmony is explored in a natural theatre between water and waterfowl. I chose Regent’s Park where I noticed colour patterns in the water made by reflections of the sky and diverse flora.(1) The Regent’s Park project crystallised after visiting the lake in winter. At the solstice, the sun rises above the surrounding buildings at eight o’clock. Anticyclonic weather gives crisp frosty air and light or no wind. The clear blue sky is veined by contrails from aircraft flying in to Heathrow. The early sunlight shines on the lake like a searchlight illuminating the surrounding trees .

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and bushes. The reflections of the flora paint the lake in brilliant colours. The winter light at sunrise also shines on the birds, bringing out the colours in their feathers. This is the breeding season, so their plumage is at its most showy. Focusing on the colours of the birds and the colours in the water surface, my intention was to produce a set of photographs, each with a different chromatic harmony between the two ingredients: the bird and its surrounding water. The birds are mostly static, like the bathers in classical paintings. I was familiar with colour theory developed by painters, for example, Gury’s Color for Painters.(2) In some images the water colours echo those in the birds’ plumage; in other they contrast with it. The


John D Woods photographs were taken during two winters (2003/2004 and 2004/2005) when an anticyclone had settled over London. The results of the project can be seen in the Blurb book that I made Winter Water Colours (www.blurb. com/books/3303252). The concept developed for the Regent’s Park project - an actor (the bird) on a colourfully-lit stage (the lake) - was used in other situations. In the next project, the actor is a swimmer and the stage is the open sea during the Mediterranean summer solstice at noon. The book, The Joy of Swimming, illustrates the sensual, visual and intellectual pleasures enjoyed in swimming, as well as the science behind the patterns created by the different refracted light sources (www.blurb.com/

books/1350244). The third book Spring Water Colours (www.blurb.com/books/3763111) explores the art and science of natural focusing in seascapes using swimmers again. I’m currently developing a fourth project for this series which depicts small boats and kayaks surrounded by colourful water on the Riviera – again, images that illustrate the effects of optics, without a political or social message. 1. Planted in 1830 by the Royal Botanic Society with the intention of rivalling Kew Gardens. A recent census recorded six hundred birds with an astonishing ninety species. The waterfowl centre at Regent’s Park supplies all eight Royal Parks. 2. Al Gury. Color for painters: a guide to traditions and practice. New York: Watson-Guptil, 2010

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Moorhen

American Wigeon

Red-crested Pochard

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Mallards


The Mobile Farrier Lesley Treloar ARPS

Ever since I can remember, I have always loved and ridden horses, but particularly now I love to photograph them in all aspects of their lives. It was while visiting a friend when the Mobile Farrier from Hidden Lizard arrived on one of his home visits to shoe Paddy. They say that the best camera is the one that’s with you; well, the one I had that day was a very small Nikon compact, but it proved to be good for the job in hand. In fact, it is quite liberating and a great way to explore a new idea, and perhaps challenge the camera to see if it can deliver - it is just like having a sketchbook to take notes and play around with a few ideas. The farrier had a gas-fired furnace in the rear of his van and a stock of ready-made shoes in various sizes; everything he needed as though in a traditional forge. I could not help but imagine what the farriers of 100 years ago would have made of this. In a way, nothing has changed in the method of his craft, just the ability to go wherever and anywhere required.

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Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man: Photographs of Samuel Beckett by John Minihan Michael White time being, right hand keeps the carpet at arm’s length, The glasses are for reading, for close work, for eyes now observing it through spectacles wielded like a magnifying more suited to the far distance. Folded and clenched, the glass that miniaturizes the world until put near enough for best they can do is look at the floor, trying to bring into gross detail. view a tiny slippered foot that could be miles away and Moving up and away, denuded of glasses whose certainly not big enough to support a literary giant As is imprint it still bears, the case with many the face is not sure images of writers, where to look. The John Minihan’s concentration of Beckett is rarely seen furrows across the with the instrument brow point down with of his craft. The act all the clarity of an of writing, hardly the most photogenic arrow, as suggests the angle of the head of practices, takes also, but the eyes place off scene. Pen stays mainly in have a different idea. It’s little wonder that pocket. The erotics they usually need of modern author the assistance of portraiture demand spectacles to compete either the before or with the size of the the after, a build up other sensory organs of concentration or a © John Minihan, Close-up of Beckett’s Hands, Room 604, Hyde Park Hotel, London, 1980 in evidence. (Beckett moment of relaxation chose a profile shot as his first publicity photograph after the work is done. On the edge of a bed yet to be but was soon able to dispense with standing out quite slept in, the courtship between photographer and subject so obviously.) (1) If it weren’t that his head seems to rise begins. Glasses are removed but not put down. The right hand hangs on, so intent on staying clothed by what it grips forever upwards, the ear would look animal in elongation. that the ring finger must flex or purchase on the knee. The And all of this propped up on the sparsest of armatures. finger looks spastic, delinquent, arthritic even, but it’s the As the veins in his hands show, he has been sitting only thing stopping the further slide of the hand towards like this for awhile, not in a state of inspiration but one the dismal world of the slipper, a route its partner seems of intense thought: concentration rather than rapture. intent on taking, caterpillaring down a trouser leg. For the Although not columnar, he is nonetheless stiffened into

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a monument. With both arms extended identically, he already blurred right hand in front and edge of bed behind. has become something of a sphinx. The faint ribbing and Fully present in this photograph is only the countenance. weave in his jumper and trousers might hint at skin and Although stilled, Beckett’s face is all action, composing bones beneath but, by and large, the high contrast of the itself, ear, nose, eyes, lips all busy seeking his image. photograph creates a single weightless, black shape of Although Minihan’s photography is one of candidness them, one which frames his hands below and face above. and informality, of which the setting speaks volumes, This silhouette carves Beckett out from the everyday these images remain heavily encoded in the conventions stuff of the room around him. We do not really need to of the portrait. From its nineteenth-century inception know that this is a hotel room or to on, photography has always scrutinize the anonymous textiles taken on the task that painting and furniture which occupy it in and sculpture had pursued for order to sense that Beckett is not centuries, that of providing insight at home here. Nor is he, as so into the character of the individual many writers find themselves when subject. How might we read the photographed, pinned against the person from the face? Rather bookshelves of his study. Apart than putting the pseudo-sciences from the bending sheets of books of phrenology and physiognomy cast aside on the bed, the symbolic out of business, photography register of writing has been was their richest fertilizer. The dispensed with. His head is neatly demand for images of notable mounted by the window frame personalities was unabated. Each to the right and bedstead below, edition of Goupil’s weekly Galerie occupying the most privileged Contemporaine featured a portrait space of the photograph, not just photograph of a leading public the full top third but the only area figure accompanied by a short life of blank background available. Not story. Years earlier, Nadar (one of heady but still all head. the photographers who contributed In this improvised studio, light regularly to Galerie Contemporaine) falls onto the subject from the created the Panthéon, a large front, etching the lines into his lithograph comprising 270 notable face, and from behind, eradicating © John Minihan, Beckett Sitting on a Bed in Room faces. In this collection of the great 604, Hyde Park Hotel, London, 1980 obvious shadows and clipping and good, the exceptionality of the edge of his forehead, making it flush with the force such cultural celebrities was intended to be legible from of his deliberation. Placing face against space not only their physical appearance. The cold glare of the camera isolates it from the room and makes it so much the centre exposed their human weaknesses at the very moment it of our attention; it allows the photographer to burn in asserted their genius. every wrinkle and whisker, concentrating the force of the Beckett was fortunate to have a phizog more enlarger’s bulb onto this spot. The plane of focus passes fascinating than his poor character Moll, a photograph through the eyes whose sharpness is enhanced by the of whom Macmann “carried with him and contemplated Contemporary Photography

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from time to time.” Instead of her, what Macmann “liked best in this picture was the chair, the seat of which seemed to be made of straw. Diligently Moll pressed her lips together, in order to hide her great buck-teeth. The roses must have been pretty, they must have scented the air. In the end Macmann tore up this photograph and threw the bits in the air, one windy day”.(2) This is certainly not the only occasion where Beckett has violence done to photographs in his writing.(3) In this instance, it appears to be precisely the inability of photography to make the person present that leads to its disdain and destruction. While it had offered so much material for the study of character, photography’s use in the developing field of pathognomy (the study of emotions) had broken the spell and revealed the face to be just a mask which could adopt any number of forms, none of which might be ‘true’ to the person.(4) While Nadar was photographing the famous, his brother took pictures of an anonymous old man whose paralyzed face was provoked into expressions with electrodes. Was any of what he appeared to be feeling actually what he felt? It was precisely photography’s ability to seize the momentary that made it complicit in dissemblance. Like Moll, we hide the bits of us we dislike and in doing so the images of our diligent performances become less interesting than furniture. The twentieth century’s response to the crisis of reading identity from exterior characteristics was, paradoxically, the cultivation of the blank look, the mug shot, the cheerless photo booth format which guarantees that I am who I look like precisely through renunciation of expression. While the deadpan view was taken to its apogee in the aesthetics of an Andy Warhol, some still sought faces that could not lie, be they Paul Strand’s blind woman, Diane Arbus’ photos of the mentally ill, or Walker Evans’ photos of unsuspecting and often catatonic subway commuters. In his narration of his encounter with Beckett, Minihan tells how their meeting was mediated by the author’s interest in Minihan’s images of the small town of Athy in County Kildare which he took to show .

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him (these are probably what we see strewn on the bed), including “a sequence on the wake of Kathy Tyrell at Sam’s suggestion” that would have included images of the deceased.(5) What could be more expressionless than the face of a dead person whose inertness is made

© John Minihan, Beckett at a Café, Paris, 1985

all the more compelling by the warm throb of mourners around her? Here is a mask that cannot dissemble, a surface explicit as such but still there to be read. It might have reminded Beckett of one of his first musings on photography: “I had seen faces in photographs I might have found beautiful had I known even vaguely in what beauty was supposed to consist. And my father’s face, on his death-bolster, had seemed to hint at some form of aesthetics relevant to man. But the faces of the living, all grimace and flush, can they be described as objects?” (6) Photography can turn faces into objects, but not when they have already suffered rigor mortis. It is not without reason that it is a practice that has been compared to


mummification or the taking of a death mask.(7) Would it surprise anybody to know that the era of photography’s dawn was also the high point of production of these “undying faces” shaped when “the blood is yet warm and the muscles still in action,” so that “the face is transfigured as if in a final glow of youth”?(8) Beckett is prepared to undergo this alteration, to lose his grimace and become an un-likeness. The courtship initiated in London is consummated in Paris, a café rendezvous where the two empty cups and full ashtray tell us about an exchange that has already taken place. Neither in the hubbub of the interior nor out on the street, our table is in the DMZ of the terrace where Beckett can comfortably remain completely bundled up in heavy coat and scarf, and shrouded in the warmer glow of artificial light. A bulb flames just behind his ear and merges into the back of his head, bouncing its beam out the other side onto the roof of the canopy. The left hand is once again making to leave; it wants to push up out of the chair, but we don’t want to listen to it and keep it covered in darkness. The right hand will not relinquish a prop, still not a pen but this time a cigarette. It is extended toward us, more animated than the face of its owner whose attention has drifted to nowhere. The neckless head nestles in the folds of the scarf but keeps floating off it towards us; the camera’s focus brings it closer to us than the outstretched hand. Lamps, eyes, arm, and hand are all aligned along a powerful diagonal that turns the shoulders inward as much as it pushes the face outward. It puts a big cross at the point where this image stops being a photograph and becomes a portrait, tears it up, and throws it to the wind.

3. A similar act of tearing and scattering takes place in A Piece of Monologue (1979) in Samuel Beckett, The Complete Dramatic Works. London & Boston, MA: Faber & Faber,1990: 426. 4. See Robert Sobieszek, Ghost in the Shell: Photography and the Human Soul, 1850–2000. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999: 41–51. 5. John Minihan, Photographing Beckett, in John Minihan, Samuel Beckett: Photographs. London: Secker & Warburg, 1995: 23. 6. Samuel Beckett, First Love (1946), in The Expelled/ The Calmative/The End with First Love, ed. Christopher Ricks (London: Faber, 2009), 73. 7. Georg Kolbe, How Death Masks are Taken, in Ernst Benkard, Undying Faces: A Collection of Death Masks. London: Hogarth Press, 1929: 43. 8. André Bazin, The Ontology of the Photographic Image in What is Cinema?, v.1. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967: 14; Susan Sontag, On Photography London: Penguin Books, 1977: 154. Editor’s note: Permission given to omit Michael White’s analysis between photography and caricature. To read this please see Modernism/modernity, v.18/4, November 2011, pp. 833-837. Article originally published in Beckett in Photographs by John Minihan as part of Samuel Beckett: Out of the Archive International Conference and Festival, University of York, November 2010.

1. For a thorough account of Beckett’s use of photographs of himself through his career see Stephen John Dilks, Portraits of Beckett as a Famous Writer. Journal of Modern Literature, 29.4. (2006): 161–188. 2. Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies, in Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable. London: John Calder, 1959: 281.

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Making Meudon Alan Organ

My twentieth-century image, Spon End 2011 (Coventry) was influenced by the André Kertész photograph Meudon, (1928). The teenager with the parcel and teenager with the mobile phone are posed by me, but the rest of the scene captured the moment when the bus arrived, for which we planned and waited. The bus is my replacement for a train. Like Kertész, after thinking about an idea, I visited the spot a couple of times and took some preparation photographs without the people. At first I considered the idea of photographing a scene encompassing the whole arch with a train going over the top, but what with the wide spans of Spon End Arches and busy road, the framing just didn’t work for me. It was then that I considered moving in closer, concentrating on one paved arch and waiting for a bus rather than a train. Like Meudon, my image gives the viewer a choice of what the subject might be. Is it either of the two teenagers, the bus, the parcel, the imposing railway arch, the mix of architecture from different ages (including the 1960s wing topped block of flats), the cloudy sky, the figure walking away from the bus or the mere fact that someone has left their wheelie bin out on the pavement? The lines in the tarmac wind their way down through the arch and around the bend to the right, bringing all the elements of the photograph together for that one moment in Spon End’s time.

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Winter, by Jeffrey Conley Book Review

Donald Stewart FRPS Why is it that I, along with many others, choose winter as my favourite season of the year? Why do I prefer this over the sheer exuberance of spring, the riot that is summer, even here in Scotland, or the fecundity and charm of autumn? It has to do with the apparent simplicity and uncomplicated nature of winter, though nothing in nature is ever simple or uncomplicated, and the ability of photography to capture this more effectively than other seasons of the year. Jeffrey Conley has caught much of this feeling and more. He captures not only the stark sharp edges of winter, the sense of isolation and individualisation which winter brings, the greater delineation of a more monochromatic landscape, but also the exquisite beauty of form revealed, the subtle variation in microtone and texture brought about by snow, frost and fog. This is not a book of grand landscape or of overdone chocolate box images of winter. It is an exploration, very personal, over a period of years of the elements which comprise winter. Neither is it a book of high key images. Conley has chosen his light carefully to produce, in the main, photographs of superb tonality and subtlety. The book is an object lesson on the effective use of black & white photography. There is a tranquillity and stillness in all of the images - the feeling which comes in those best of days when the photographer feels at one with the environment. A stillness and tranquillity of mind and soul as much as subject matter. Many of the images would sit comfortably and convincingly alongside the minimalist music of Adams, Reich, Riley and Glass. Like this music, the images are a combination of the almost imperceptible variation and the unexpected which produce the most lasting impact. Indeed, Conley follows in the tradition of the great American landscape photographers such as Watkins, O’Sullivan, Jackson, Muybridge and Adams. Perhaps a book for quiet introspection but nonetheless one which reminds me of a central tenet of photography; when the image is strong enough few if any words of explanation are needed. Winter, Jeffrey Conley, Nazraeli Press, Portland, OR, 2011

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Š Jeffrey Conley

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Welland’s Past in the Present Patricia Bashforth

I visited Welland, Ontario in May 2007, staying with friends from the Italian community, themselves inter-married with people from the Scottish and French communities, all with connections to the city’s declining industrial past. The “Rose City” gives its name to the Welland Canal, linking Lake Erie to Lake Ontario across the Niagara Peninsula. The first canal was built in 1829. The Welland Ship Canal that passes through the city today was the fourth and largest of successive canals and opened in 1932, taking ocean-going vessels right through the heart of Welland. The building of the canal attracted an immigrant population of English, Irish, Scottish and French families. Industry followed the canal: iron, steel, and engineering. The Plymouth Cordage Company brought in and housed a community of skilled workers, mostly French, to make twine for harvesting and rope for every occasion. New waves of immigrants followed to build the nearby Niagara Power Plant: Italians, Croatians, Hungarians, Poles and Germans. In 1973, the canal was re-aligned to the east of Welland, to become part of the St Lawrence Seaway. The by-passed canal is now the recreational heart of the City, where once it was the economic life-blood. Old industries are a memory, though Welland proudly celebrates its multi-ethnic heritage. On the canal side is a memorial

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to the builders and their families, with the many nations represented in the sponsors’ names captured in its walkway. In 1988, in a spirit of regeneration and reinvention, the community invited Canadian artists to paint Welland’s history on giant outdoor murals across town. The murals have become the cultural heart of the city and are now themselves the target of efforts at conservation and renewal. My images of the murals and those along the canal aim to capture the spirit of this past as it is echoed in the present. However, my use of photography is conceptual rather than documentary. I frequently use close-up in order to dislocate perception and challenge expectations as to what a photograph might reveal. In a similarly conceptual way I respond to the environment verbally, by translating that response into text. The text here relates to the Four Elements, and the foundation history of Rose City as it continues to reinvent itself: the earth which was excavated in its creation, the water which provided its life-blood, the fire at the heart of its industry and the air framed by its bridges and that oxygenates the people’s memories. Bibliography: Jerry Gibb, A Festival of Canadian Art: Welland’s Giant Outdoor Murals (Welland, Ontario, 1991) http://www.infoniagara.com/attractions/murals_of_welland/index. aspx (accessed 10 January 2013)


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The Elements EARTH once I walked there shovels pounding burdened with blackened soil hands reaching towards a landscape that is just beginning WATER once I walked there shales and sand grains on the surface individual stones once pounded now tiptoe beneath the water FIRE once I walked there sunsets of ochred metal textured droplets of steam and dust conversations merged into languages of sound AIR once I walked there towering statues of coiled lines strains of skylights float beyond memories

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Group Events January 29February 10

Exhibition of Grays Pick-your-Own Farm photographs by Brian Steptoe. Norden Farm Gallery, Maidenhead. see www.nordenfarm.org for opening times.

February 10

Contemporary South West meeting, Cornwall. Venue and time tba. Contact Rod Fry, email rod@rodfry.eclipse.co.uk, tel 01803 844721 (after 7pm)

March 1-29

Contemporary Group exhibit as part of the RPS Special Interest Groups exhibition at Fenton House, Bath

March 16

Photography and the Book, in conjunction with the RPS, Chetham’s Library, Long Millgate, Manchester M3 1SB. Approx.10.30 - 5.00, Dewi Lewis, Chris Coekin, other speakers and cost TBA. Contact Bob Gates ARPS, bob@robertgates.eu

March 18

Contemporary North West meeting. Days Inn, Charnock Richard Services, M6 between J27 and 28. Contact Ian Maxwell mail@ihmaxwell.com, tel 01524 770278. New website address is www.contemporarynorthwest.co.uk

March 22-24

Weekend for members of Postal Portfolios One and Two to look at and discuss ongoing work. Missenden Abbey, Great Missenden, Bucks. Contact Anne Crabbe, info@annecrabbe.co.uk

March 23

Group AGM. Grafton Hotel, Tottenham Court Road, London. Start time 2 pm. A short AGM followed by a talk from our guest speaker, Liz Hingley who will present her Under Gods and The Jones Family projects.

April 6

Contemporary North East. Meeting at Strensall Village Hall, Strensall, York YO32 5XW 2pm. Speaker - Rod Fry ARPS, Deputy Chair of Contemporary Group. Contact: Nigel Tooby nigel@mogulimage.co.uk tel: 01924 274100 and 07817 416286

April 12-14

Seeing Photographically; workshop by Maria Falconer FRPS and Paul Hill MBE in Epping Forest at Zinc Arts, Chipping Ongar, Essex, See www.hillonphotography.co.uk/workshops.php

May 20

Contemporary North West meeting. Contact and location as above.

June 16

Contemporary South West meeting, Devon venue and time tba. Contact as above.

Oct 12-13

ADVANCE NOTICE. Contemporary Group weekend event. Reading College, Kings Road, Reading RG1 4HJ

Chair - Avril Harris ARPS avrilrharris@blueyonder.co.uk

Event organiser - Avril Harris ARPS avrilrharris@blueyonder.co.uk

Publicity officer - Rod Fry ARPS rod@rodfry.eclipse.co.uk

Deputy chair - Rod Fry ARPS rod@rodfry.eclipse.co.uk

Journal editor - Patricia Ruddle ARPS 28 Malvern Avenue, York. YO26 5SG patriciaruddle@btinternet.com

Committee members Steff Hutchinson ARPS info@steffhutchinson.co.uk Ian Maxwell mail@ihmaxwell.com Douglas May FRPS douglasjmay1@btinternet.com Richard Sadler FRPS sadler118@btinternet.com

Secretary - Bob Gates ARPS bob@robertgates.eu Treasurer - Brian Steptoe FRPS bsteptoe@compuserve.com Postal portfolio - Anne Crabbe FRPS info@annecrabbe.co.uk

Journal Editorial committee Patricia Ruddle, editor Anne Crabbe Brian Steptoe, design

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Too much time to think, Š Paul Hill MBE. Paul Hill was the first Chair of the Group when it was formed in 1989 and also chaired the Contemporary Distinctions assessment panel at that time. See Events page for forthcoming workshop.

Contemporary Photography, Winter 2012  

Winter edition of the quarterly journal of the RPS Contemporary Group

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